Bibliographic Information (best version for telling): Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.  “The Story of Ruth”  Shavuot at  OU.ORG.  c.2001


Ethnic Origin:  Hebrew

Running Time:  9 min

Power Center(s):  Ruth and Naomi’s dedication to each other.  This isn’t just a story about a devoted daughter-in-law; the two are perpetually trying to do the right thing for each other.   I chose this story because I think it one of the better aspects of human nature, to form bonds with and feel responsibility for people with whom you don’t have a blood or sexual relationship.


Characters:   Elimelech, Naomi, the two sons, Orpah, Ruth, Boaz, the overseer, the harvesters, Mr. So-and-So, the neighbor women, Obed.


Scenes:   1) The Family Moves to Moab and the Men Die  2)Naomi Says Good-Bye To Her Daughter-In-Laws, But Ruth Will Not Leave Her 3) The Return to Bethlehem 4)Ruth meets Boaz in the Fields 5) Ruth Goes to Boaz’s Tent 6) Boaz meets with Mr. So-and So 7) Boaz and Ruth Marry and Have A Son


Synopsis:  Elimelech moves his family to Moab to escape a famine, and then dies.  His sons marry well but die childless.  Elimelech’s wife Naomi decides to return home and tells her daughter-in-laws to return to their parents.  Ruth refuses and the two go to Israel.  Ruth gets permission to glean in Boaz’s fields and he is kind to her.  Naomi decides that Boaz and Ruth are meant to marry and instructs her on how to approach him.  Boaz wants to marry Ruth but there is someone else who is more entitled to her.  Boaz consults with the man but he does not want to marry her because she is because she is a Moabite.  Ruth and Boaz are married and have a son.


Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor": The song of Ruth: Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people and your God my God.  Wherever you die, I shall die, and there be buried.  May the Lord do so to me and more besides if anything but death separates me from you.


Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

Erikson’s 8 stages include Identity vs. Role Diffusion in late adolescence, Intimacy vs. Isolation in young adulthood, Generativity vs. Stagnation in middle adulthood, and Ego Integrity vs. Despair in old age.   It is clear that Ruth has defined herself as one of Naomi’s family—she probably did that in late adolescence, and that she and Naomi have a close and caring relationship, as described in the young adulthood stage.  Ruth also develops a relationship with Naomi stage.  The story also decribes the middle adulthood stage—the generations caring for each other:  Ruth will not leave Naomi out of a sense of responsibility toward her and Naomi helps Ruth get together with him.  Naomi’s ego integrity is also considered, she is filled with despair about her life’s events when she first arrives in her homeland, but she takes great joy in her role caring for Ruth’s baby.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. “Book of Ruth”  New American Bible.  New York:  Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1970.  pp. 259-263.

 Yolen, Jane and Heidi E.Y. Stemple (eds.).  “The Story of Ruth”  Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folktales for Mothers and Daughters to Share.  New York: Viking, 2000.  pp. 185-189.


Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

The New American Bible is the post-Vatican II effort to make the Bible readable, and it largely is.  The level of detail is sometimes excruciating, you sometimes lose the action in the detail.


The Yolen reads more or less like a streamlined version of the Bible, but it starts the story at Naomi’s decision to leave and presents the earlier events as backstory.  This makes it more difficult to tell.  It is also a little skimpy—to the point of being confusing--on detail.


The Union of Orthodox Congregations is the only version to intersperse commentary and use humor.  Reading it aloud, because of the commentary and the way the rhythm works, I wanted to impersonate Marion Anderson’s character on Brooklyn Bridge.  This version seems the most like an oral story.  The other versions, especially the Catholic one, seem more like novels.